By Aine Cryts

Artificial intelligence is changing the role of radiologic technologists by increasing the efficiency and accuracy with which exams are done. That’s just one reason Russell Anthony, AART, radiology technology supervisor at San Antonio’s University Hospital, is optimistic about the ability of artificial intelligence to transform his daily work.

Anthony, who also has a TMB medical radiographer’s license, says artificial intelligence can help take steps out of the hands of technologists, and, thus, facilitate getting patient information to technologists.

Still, he counsels radiologic technologists against the misconception that this technology could eliminate jobs. “If anything, it will create jobs because more computer-savvy employees will be needed to work on these types of machines as they become more available in the hospital systems,” he says.

“With the combination of x-ray machines and computer systems they will be matched with, [artificial intelligence] will only get better over time—just like in the phone industry which upgrades its phones regularly,” says Anthony. “The portable and fixed rooms will require specially trained people who can troubleshoot problems that can occur with the combination of x-ray machines and computerization.”

AXIS Imaging News recently discussed the impact of artificial intelligence on the changing role of radiologic technologists with Anthony. What follows is a version of that conversation that has been lightly edited for clarity.

AXIS Imaging News: Please provide us with an example of how you’re using technology to increase efficiency and accuracy for the patients you serve.

Russell Anthony: Typing in information is almost a thing of the past. That’s because computerized information is a now simple barcode that’s flashed and then checked for accuracy by the technologist; this step verifies that they have the correct patient and the correct exam for the patient. Since the process goes much faster with correct information, the technologist can focus their time on getting the images needed and not worrying about typing errors that the system might not understand.

AXIS: Why should radiologic technologists be enthusiastic about artificial intelligence and its impact on the patients they treat?

Anthony: Technologists should be enthusiastic about the impact of artificial intelligence since it will help make their jobs faster and easier. Artificial intelligence is also better for patient care, since faster imaging inherently brings faster care for the patients who need immediate help.

The elimination of image processing wait times, which translates into more work being done in the same time span, is another benefit of artificial intelligence. For example, there’s no going back to the department to process images—processing happens on the machines being used, thus eliminating time that would have been used to process images.

AXIS: What are some specific ways technology can help support radiologic technologists in their changing roles?

Anthony: As hospital systems grow, there will be a greater need for technologists who can operate these machines; these machines are specific to the field of radiology and require the specialized training of personnel to operate them effectively. This specialized training will mean higher pay for those who operate these machines and have the ‘know-how.’ More food for thought: As populations grow, there will be a growing need for more highly trained personnel to stay on top of the imaging needs of hospitals worldwide.

Aine Cryts is a contributing writer for AXIS Imaging News.